Jaguars, a sacred species to the indigenous people of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica civilizations, have the strongest bite of all the big cats.
Like the powerful feline, singer-songwriter Victoria Monét has a vigorously sharp and supreme musicality that has landed her diverse placements on the significant albums, from Ariana Grande, Chloe X Halle, Chrisette Michele, and most recently, Brandy’s comeback record B7.
For Jaguar, her first project in two years, Monét immerses herself in the valor aura of the stealthy Panthera onca, and charts in a sonically lustful territory with a pristinely cunning style.
Dernst Emile II a.k.a. D’ Mile, a mascot of pioneering soul music, presides on the charmingly retro production of Jaguar. His virtuoso for an innovative sound that would later shape music as we know it, paired with Monét’s aesthetic for the sexualization of visible inspirations like Janet Jackson and Aaliyah results in the supernova’s most ambitious release to date.
That said, “Moment” leads the way. This slithering proposition about seizing the occasion to explore sexual fantasies openly, without judgment has a sort of The Jungle Book imagery. While her trance-inducing voice resembles Rihanna’s assertiveness over the mystical instrumentation, it also has an affinity for the seductiveness of Kaa.
Monét draws on a jaguar’s ability to pursue their prey in water on the steamy tune “Dive.” She lists the many ways her bedroom target can make her love faucet spillover.
“I wanna see you rock the boat, back and forth / Lick the beach, fuck the shore / Make me scream, all aboard,” she sings over a horn-soaked soundscape.
Aggressiveness is another attribute of the jaguar. The project’s title track is a psychedelic and dance-pop salute to this incarnation. Here, Monét tries to jog the memory of a fantasy lover who she hopes can satisfy her hankering for opened-minded sex. She also ties in the nine lives myth of cats as it relates to her silky love box.
Along with expanding on the ‘70s soul framework, Monét amplifies the physical vision of the spotted cat on “Ass Like That,” a head-turning ode to women with homegrown and hard-won rumps.
Everything on the project doesn’t have a nexus to the Jaguar. “Experience” is noticeably the only non-D’Mile produced tune, containing a synth-pop ambiance engineered by SG-Lewis. Khalid and the helmed-producer make an appearance on the tune about finding their way back to their partner following a relationship breather.
“Love always feels better, when it’s true / Love tastes way too bitter, when it’s you / I’m all out of love / You gave it away / I’m hoping that experience could get you to change,” Monét sings.
The winning track on Jaguar is “Go There With You,” an argument dodger where she lets her synthetic soul flourish behind a fixed bassline and fuzzy guitar licks.
Monét once again identifies with the wildcat, pointing out its natural ability to live boldly outside the face of fear on the closing track “Touch Me.” With this spacey, nocturnal gem, the refreshingly talented star switches up the pronouns from “him” to “her.”
Not only does she refuse to have her bisexuality silenced from this project, but she signals sensibility to her LGBTQ+ listeners who expect her to embrace this side of herself in her artistry.
If you need a break from the stagnancy and uninspired sounds that are often concealed in today’s climate of R&B, never fear, Monét’s Jaguar project is here.
Stream Jaguar by Victoria Monét below.